LION’S MANE MUSHROOM BENEFITS – What Is Lion’s Mane And What Does It Do?

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LION’S MANE MUSHROOM BENEFITS - What Is Lion’s Mane And What Does It Do
LION’S MANE MUSHROOM BENEFITS – What Is Lion’s Mane And What Does It Do? Graphic © Background images: Lebrac (Wikipedia) – lic. under CC 3.0

Edible fungi are a culinary and nutritional powerhouse. They are packed with minerals, vitamins, fiber, and other nutritional elements. They’re also low in calories, fat, and sodium. Overall, mushrooms are an excellent source of nutritional value—which is part of the reason they’re increasingly finding their way into health circles.

There are thousands of mushrooms, but a few stand out for their nutritional value and health benefits. One such variety that may offer powerful health benefits is the lion’s mane mushroom.

Beyond its unique shaggy appearance that warrants its name, the lion’s mane mushroom is believed to have potent bioactive substances that may improve your cognition, mood, and immune system. But what does the research say?

Drawing on a well-researched YouTube video by Dorian Wilson, here’s what you need to know about lion’s mane mushroom.

What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s mane mushroom (Latin name Hericium erinaceus) is an edible fungus with a long history of medicinal use in Asian countries like Korea, Japan, India, and China. It’s believed to offer immunostimulating, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, antibiotic, antisenescence, neuroprotective, and antioxidative properties. [1]

Like most mushrooms, the lion’s mane has two distinct parts, the fruiting body (the part you see) and the mycelia (branching web of thread-like structure that absorb nutrients).

As Dorian points out, the fruiting body and mycelia have their own unique assortment of bioactive molecules and compounds—which also affects their health impact. He suggests buying lion’s mane products that contain both parts of the mushroom to experience its full benefits.

What Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Do?

As mentioned earlier, lion’s mane mushroom has traditionally been used as a medicinal food—especially in Asian communities. Emerging studies are increasingly showing that there may be scientific explanations for the mushroom’s health effects.

Lion’s mane is rich in bioactive compounds with a wide range of health-promoting properties, including:

Lion’s Mane May Improve Brain Health and Cognition

It’s always a good idea to keep your brain (aka., the control center of your body) in peak working condition. Whether you’re looking to boost your cognition for improved performance/productivity or to combat age-related cognitive decline, some studies suggest that lion’s mane mushroom may help.
According to a small study appearing in the journal Phytotherapy Research, lion’s mane mushroom was shown to be effective at improving mild cognitive impairment in a group of people aged 50-80 years. [2] Animal studies show similar findings, with lion’s mane linked to neuroprotective effects and better memory. [3]

So, how does lion’s mane improve cognition?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, one way lion’s mane mushroom may boost cognition is by increasing the levels of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). [5] NGF is a neuropeptide involved in the regulation, protection, and growth of certain neurons.
Another study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences claims that lion’s mane may stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is an important protein that helps support the health and growth of neurons. [6]

And while more research is needed, a 2010 study claimed that lion’s mane is able to increase the levels of neurotrophic growth factors because its bioactive compounds hericenones and erinacines can cross the blood-brain barrier. [7]

The mushroom also has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help promote the production of more BDNF. [1]

Lion’s Mane May Boost Immunity

A strong immune system is key to protecting your body from the harmful effects of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing pathogens.

Research shows that lion’s mane may have beneficial effects on your immune system. According to an animal study in the journal Food & Function, the mushroom was shown to have immunomodulatory effects—mainly through the effective regulation of intestinal immune activity. [8]

Another 2012 study found that lion’s mane extract may help protect against bacterial infection by activating innate immune cells. [9] The mushroom increased the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella by nearly 4 times.

Lion’s mane may also boost your immunity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation—two major risk factors for autoimmune disorders, cancer, heart disease, and other modern illnesses. [10][11][12]

Lion’s Mane And Mood Improvement

According to findings from a random controlled trial published in the journal Biomed Research, lion’s mane may help improve your mood. The researchers examined a group of 30 women for a month and noted that participants who ate lion’s mane cookies reported better mood than those who ate placebo cookies. [13]

Other studies suggest that consuming lion’s mane may help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. [6][14] The mushroom may also exert its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects by improving the functioning of the hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with emotional response memory processing. [15]

How To Take Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Interested in lion’s mane for its health or culinary benefits? You can enjoy the mushroom cooked, raw, steeped as tea, or dried.

Another way to add lion’s mane to your diet is through supplementation. But as Dorian insists, ensure you get high-quality products that contain the fruiting body and mycelia. This allows you to experience all the cognitive and immune health benefits of the mushroom.

Topic: Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits – What Is Lion’s Mane and What Does It Do?
Who? Dorian Wilson



[1] Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(32), 7108-7123:

[2] Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double‐blind placebo‐controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(3), 367-372:

[3] Brandalise, F., Cesaroni, V., Gregori, A., Repetti, M., Romano, C., Orrù, G., … & Rossi, P. (2017). Dietary supplementation of Hericium erinaceus increases mossy fiber-CA3 hippocampal neurotransmission and recognition memory in wild-type mice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017:

[4] Tsai-Teng, T., Chin-Chu, C., Li-Ya, L., Wan-Ping, C., Chung-Kuang, L., Chien-Chang, S., … & Shiao, Y. J. (2016). Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. Journal of biomedical science, 23(1), 1-12:

[5] Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., … & Malek, S. N. A. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 15(6):

[6] Chiu, C. H., Chyau, C. C., Chen, C. C., Lee, L. Y., Chen, W. P., Liu, J. L., … & Mong, M. C. (2018). Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(2), 341:

[7] Ma, B. J., Shen, J. W., Yu, H. Y., Ruan, Y., Wu, T. T., & Zhao, X. (2010). Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycology, 1(2), 92-98:

[8] Sheng, X., Yan, J., Meng, Y., Kang, Y., Han, Z., Tai, G., … & Cheng, H. (2017). Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food & Function, 8(3), 1020-1027:

[9] Kim, S. P., Moon, E., Nam, S. H., & Friedman, M. (2012). Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 60(22), 5590-5596:

[10] Hunter, P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease: The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968-970:

[11] Hou, Y., Ding, X., & Hou, W. (2015). Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus. Molecular medicine reports, 11(5), 3794-3799:

[12] Mori, K., Ouchi, K., & Hirasawa, N. (2015). The anti-inflammatory effects of lion’s mane culinary-medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a coculture system of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and RAW264 macrophages. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 17(7):

[13] Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 231-237:

[14] Yao, W., Zhang, J. C., Dong, C., Zhuang, C., Hirota, S., Inanaga, K., & Hashimoto, K. (2015). Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 136, 7-12:

[15] Ryu, S., Kim, H. G., Kim, J. Y., Kim, S. Y., & Cho, K. O. (2018). Hericium erinaceus extract reduces anxiety and depressive behaviors by promoting hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult mouse brain. Journal of medicinal food, 21(2), 174-180:

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